A class syllabus is one of the most useful tools students often overlook: this document has all the information you need to know about what to expect over the coming semester. Here are several ways to use your syllabus to your advantage.
1. Find Out What the Class Covers
Check the syllabus to find out what topics you’ll be covering in class. Depending on whether the class is one you’ve been looking forward to taking or it’s a required class that doesn’t interest you in the slightest, reading the summary could be exciting or it may fill you with dread. In either case, it’s worth reading this information in detail (rather than skimming) to think about if there’s any extra preparation you’d like to do, such as additional reading or looking over your notes from a prerequisite class.
2. Acquire the Books and Equipment You Need
Carefully check the reading list for the class, as some books may be required and others only recommended. Decide which to purchase according to how important the class is to you and whether you think you may struggle without the additional books. The syllabus will also mention if you need any other equipment for your class, such as software or a scientific calculator.
3. Create Your Schedule
Your syllabus will tell you when you need to attend classes, the deadlines for your assignments, and the dates for tests. Use all this information to create a schedule. Write down in your planner when you’ll be attending class and labs, when you’ll do homework, and how you’ll make sure you complete projects on time.
4. Research Your Professor
Find out more about the professor who is giving your class through a quick internet search. You’ll also receive your instructor’s contact information on the syllabus — write down the email address to ensure you’ll be able to send your professor a message if you run into any problems.
5. Make a Note of the Weightings for Grades
It’s important to know how much a particular assignment or quiz counts toward your final grade. If you have a heavy schedule, you may need to put much more effort into aspects that are weighted higher. For instance, homework may be worth very little in some classes, meaning you could choose to skip an assignment occasionally. However, you should definitely try to complete homework as often as possible, since the feedback you receive will be valuable for projects that do contribute to your grade.
6. Check for Class-Specific Policies
As well as grade weightings, your class may have specific policies. For instance, you may be required to attend a certain percentage of your classes to avoid losing credit.
7. Add Office Hours to Your Planner
Too many students neglect office hours. You’re paying for an education that includes one-on-one support with your professors when you need it. If you ever have a question that you can’t ask in class or you want guidance before submitting an assessment, attend office hours. Make sure you know when these are by writing in your planner the times listed on your syllabus.
Utilizing your syllabus is just the start of making sure this semester is successful. Once you’ve created a study schedule, you’ll need to make sure you stick to it. This is often easier said than done, especially if you’re finding it hard to focus due to facing constant interruptions. Students are able to better concentrate on their studies when they live in off-campus housing. Ottawa students can find a new home at THEO. As well as the student apartments, the building has two conference rooms and 12 study rooms. Book an onsite visit to check out all our great amenities.